Thought to have originated in Central Asia, shallots are a member of the Allium family that has become the basis of many dishes in Asian and French cuisine. Their mild flavor makes them perfect for eating raw and adding to vinaigrettes, but shallots are also amazing when cooked, providing the base for many classic French sauces. Store in a cool, dry place.
Although native to parts of western Asia, dill weed is usually associated with Russian and European cuisine where it is paired with fish (gravlax), pickles, yogurt, sour cream, and potatoes. Dill also goes well with beets, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggs, cream sauces, and salmon. Store dill in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Typically the feathery fronds are used and taste best if added fresh at the end of cooking.
One of the many varieties of summer squash, zucchini is a staple of many a vegetable garden. This versatile veggie can be sautéed, baked, stuffed, grilled, added to soups, and grated for baked goods. Zucchini contains a fair amount of water, which makes it perfect for salting. Salting improves texture and concentrates the squash flavor. Simply toss coarsely grated or diced zucchini with a small amount of salt, let it sit in colander for 15-30 minutes, then rinse and squeeze dry. Zucchini partners well with butter, yogurt, Parmesan cheese, garlic, dill, basil, marjoram, mint, lemon, walnuts, tomatoes, and peppers. Store zucchini in a plastic bag in the refrigerator; excessive moisture will cause molding.
See notes from week of July 16 for a refresher on turnips. If the tops look good, remove and store separately. Turnip greens are great cooked and treated like any hardy green, especially if braised with some bacon. The root stores best in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Turnips need to be peeled before using. Turnips partner well with apples, bacon, carrots, potatoes, cream, mushrooms, and vinegar.
Bean Salad with Creamy Herb and Shallot Dressing (serves 4)
This dressing goes well with many types of vegetables, including zucchini, fennel, lettuce, and mushrooms. Feel free to be creative with the fresh herbs you add. The dressing will last for up to a week in the refrigerator.
1 ½ pounds green or yellow wax beans
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
1 shallot finely minced
Salt and freshly milled pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 ½ tablespoons chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped thyme or marjoram
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Make an ice bath in a large bowl; set aside. Remove stem end and boil the beans until tender but still firm. Drain and put beans in ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once cool, drain and set aside.
Combine the vinegar, shallot, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a bowl and let stand for 15 minutes. Whisk in the oil and sour cream, then stir in the herbs and season with pepper. Taste and correct the balance of oil and vinegar if needed.
Toss cooked beans with dressing and serve.
Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.
Zucchini and Fresh Herb Fritters (serves 4)
For a vegan version of this recipe, replace eggs with ½ cup pureed silken tofu. This dish makes a great side dish or is perfect for a light lunch.
2 pounds zucchini, coarsely grated
2 eggs beaten
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup dried bread crumbs (panko)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped marjoram or basil
1 teaspoon chopped mint
Salt and freshly milled pepper
Olive oil as needed
Lightly salt the grated zucchini and set it aside in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients together except the oil and pepper. Quickly rinse the squash, squeeze out the excess water, and then stir it into the batter. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
Film a large skillet with olive oil. When hot, drop in the batter (1/4 cup makes a fritter about 3 ½ inches across) and cook over medium heat until golden on the bottom. Turn and cook the second side. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until all the batter is cooked. Serve warm.
Recipe courtesy of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.